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Hinkley Point C granted first nuclear site licence for 25 years

A proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset was granted a site licence today – the culmination of a three-year process that has cost £8 million to date.

The decision by the Office for Nuclear Regulation marks the end of three years of deliberation of the application by NNB Generation Company, the subsidiary created by EDF Energy to build and operate the plant.

The process has cost £8m, which NNB GenCo is obligated to pay. The licence will come into effect on 3 December 2012.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (now ONR) last granted a nuclear site licence for a power station to British Energy in 1987 for Sizewell B.

This does not grant EDF permission to start nuclear-related work at the site, however, and EDF and its partner Centrica have yet to make a final decision on investment for the multi-billion project.

The project still needs to receive planning approval from the planning inspectorate and then the secretary of state, which is not expected until around March 2013. Approval is also needed for the EPR reactor.

CN reported earlier this month that a total of 13 issues remain before generic design assessment approval can be granted for the proposed reactor design for new nuclear plants at Hinkley Point C and Sizewell.

The reactor nuclear island cannot be built in the UK until these issues are resolved.

HM chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman said: “Although a significant step, it is important to note that granting a nuclear site licence does not constitute permission to start construction of nuclear safety-related plant.

“That requires permission from ONR, permits from the Environment Agency and planning consent from the secretary of state.”

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